(chai, chai, vudu-chai: “Tea, Tea, help me!” - A phrase used by many Magadan children this summer)
After several miles of travel, and tons of tea, we are now settled in our new abode in Magadan. The past month has been incredible. We have made new friends, spent time with old ones and have gotten the opportunity to explore our new home.
One of the first few days here we experienced yet, again another aspect of Russian hospitality when two merchant women dropped everything they were doing to help “the Americans.” The excitement and joy they shared with us was infectious.
One of my friends, Оксана, took me to the local museum and showed me the history, culture, and natural history of the Magadan region. It was incredible being able to spend time with her; as well as to learn about her history, her home and her culture (as well as more russian words).
Later that week, some of our friends from the summer, took us on a hike up a mountain to a place in Magadan hailed as, “the Dragons.” These Dragons that guard the city of Magadan, are actually old Soviet radio towers. We marked our summit by photos and berry picking. Afterwards, we stopped into an old, derelict house (a vocab word very impressively used by one of our Russian friends) and our friends whipped out a Russian spread of black bread, salmon, apples, and of course, чай. MJ and I pulled out our American hiking snacks, granola bars and spicy trail mix (petty compared to the Russian hiking feast). After our short meal, we began our descent into the valley, sans flashlights, but full of laughter. Our journey down was just as amazing as the ascent as we beheld the twinkling city below.
A few days later we decided to kick off the year with a bonfire and s’mores. We hiked all over the city to find the perfect spot on the sea to toast our marshmallows and share stories. We finally settled in the rocks by the great Mammoth statue (commemorating the archaeological discovery of the baby mammoth remains in the area). We set up camp, made a makeshift fire pit on the rocky shores and roasted under the radiant rays of the moon. Our friends were briefly fascinated by the s’mores, but turned to roasting sausages promptly.
In addition to all the fun, classes began, and let me just say, learning a language in another language is extremely humbling. MJ and I have been sitting in on college level Russian Literature, Poetry and Journalism Classes. Slowly, but surely, we are learning. We can now successfully pick out several words that our professors use. By the grace of God, several of our friends have been helping us as we struggle to communicate.
As the winter weather approaches, we find ourselves bundling up and consuming a lot more tea, and so the adventure continues. Praise God, Слава Бого, for all the blessings thus far, and for those to come.
God Bless Magadan and all those who call this city, home.